Local foodservice employees are meeting the return of students to the University of Connecticut with conflicting emotions. While many restaurants feel relieved by the influx of customers, some drivers are expressing concerns about filling orders from locked-down parts of campus such as Mansfield Apartments, Husky Village, Garrigus and other COVID-19 affected residence halls.
Jamie Crane, a fifth-semester molecular and cell biology major, works as a delivery driver for DoorDash. Crane said she decided to stop making on-campus deliveries after most of the orders were for residents of Garrigus, a residence hall on lockdown due to a cluster of COVID-19 cases.
“I had to decline basically every order I was getting that day because they were mostly to Garrigus,” Crane said. “I’ve mostly stopped delivering to students because of the increase in cases.”
Crane said that her decision to refuse on-campus orders impacted her work as she found delivering solely off-campus to be less profitable.
“There’s less orders off-campus, and they take longer to complete than on-campus deliveries. I don’t rely on it to support myself, but for those who do, they would have to deliver to potentially sick or quarantined students to make a profit around here,”
“There’s less orders off-campus, and they take longer to complete than on-campus deliveries. I don’t rely on it to support myself, but for those who do, they would have to deliver to potentially sick or quarantined students to make a profit around here,” Crane said.
About ten restaurants in Storrs deliver to customers, and services such as DoorDash, GrubHub and UberEats provide even more delivery options. While many companies offer contactless delivery, not everyone chooses that option.
“With buildings like apartments or dorms, people usually choose for me to hand their food to them, which I wasn’t comfortable doing,” Crane said. “If you’re in an area of campus that’s isolated or under medical quarantine, I’d say just don’t order food. The dining halls are open for takeout without putting unaware delivery drivers at risk.”
Other drivers said they do not feel concerned about contracting COVID-19 while completing deliveries.
Nick Martin, a junior at Eastern Connecticut State University and Insomnia Cookies employee, has worked as a delivery driver for over two years. Martin said he delivered to COVID-19 affected residence halls, but considers the risk of infection to be the same for all deliveries.
“It doesn’t change where you go because it’s all contactless. So you just put it on the steps of the dorm, call them, wait, they pick it up, and then you leave. It really doesn’t make a difference where you go,” Martin said. “I would prefer not to [deliver to affected areas,] but it doesn’t affect my health in any way.”
According to its website, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintains that no evidence suggests that COVID-19 can be transmitted through food. However, a person may contract the virus if they touch an infected surface and then their eyes, mouth or nose. The CDC says COVID-19 mainly spreads person-to-person through talking, coughing or sneezing.
The CDC suggests that delivery drivers wear a mask, practice social distancing, wash their hands and sanitize surfaces often.